10 Days of Silence

10 Days of Silence January 1, 2023

Solstice

Solstice comes almost unexpectedly. In a part of the world where the seasons change, Autumn into Winter can arrive quietly, without warning, almost unnoticed. The ten days between solstice and the civil new year are a time of quiet and reflection that I like to call the Ten Days of Silence.

Solstice New Year

While there are ample reasons to recognise the November Cross-Quarter as a new year or the 1st of January as the civil new year, the stopping of the movement of the Sun at December Solstice seems an appropriate time to celebrate my new year.

It isn’t a random calendrical date, it isn’t in-between something, it is the far extreme of solar movement, and it is conveniently close to the civil new year of 1 January. Since the days get longer after this date, in the Northern Hemisphere, this seems the perfect time for new beginnings.

Liminal Days

Am I proposing that we change our world-wide acknowledgement of New Year’s Day to match my belief? Absolutely not. In the calendar that surrounds my life, this will be my New Year’s Day, observed with a prayer, an offering, and a smile. Yet, what is to become of the ten days between the Solstice and the observed New Year?

I see these days as a liminal time. It is not a forgotten time. My birthday falls in this period, and I feel it has some local significance. In the days that follow the Solstice there are celebration and lights and the giving of gifts (in many cultures) and then there is silence until the new year arrives.

The Day without a Year

My mentor used to call the Solstice the “Day without a year”. For them, it was a time in-between, separated from the ending year and a welcome pause before the next. I must admit that I have always seen it as this way as well, but observed quietly, a day without a year at my home altar.

Instead of pausing for one day and then propelling myself into the new year, I now propose a ten-day period of rest and observation. I feel that each day is magical, a miracle in-and-of itself. Therefore, to mark these ten magical and miracle days, I have devised a ten-day program of reflection which I present now.

Day 1: the Day without a year

A day set apart makes a lot of sense to me. While the solstice moment is fleeting and the stopping of the sun is brief, I feel that commemorating the day has value and purpose. Here is my prayer for this day:

Take an empty vessel to pour water or spirits into.

Day 1 Prayer

On this day without a year,

I pause and listen:

I make this offering in this liminal time,

The beginning of new things.

Fill vessel one-fifth full.

Day 2: Slight increase of light

This is the day of a slight increase in light, ever so slight. Progress towards a gathering light is movement in the right direction, albeit in the silence of this annual cycle.

Day 2 Prayer

On this first day of the gathering light,

I pause and reflect.

I make an offering to the lengthening day,

The wonder of the new sun.

Fill vessel one-fifth more.

Day 3: Silence and Light

Today is the day to observe the dawn, as we move from the silence of darkness to the first hint of light.

Day Three Prayer

Three days on.

I see the dawn,

And the dawn sees me.

I make this offering to the emerging Sun.

Fill vessel one-fifth more.

Day 4: Morning Opens

Morning Opens on the fourth day. Dawn was yesterday’s gift and today I look to the Sun in the morning sky. Be there Sun or clouds, morning is morning, nonetheless.

Day Four Prayer

The Morning Sun,

Is the gift of Silence,

The miracle looks me in the eye,

I make this offering to the eternal morning.

Fill vessel one-fifth more

Day Five: Sun Overhead

Today, the Sun looks down, recently renewed, it shines down its gifts on the entire world.

Day Five Prayer

Look down upon me,

Young Sun,

Recently born and now resplendent,

I make this offering with opens hands.

Fill vessel one-fifth more.

Day Six: The Sun casts shadows

Day Six finds the Sun now moving further into this new and liminal time. It is coming into its own.

Day Six Prayer

I see the shadow of the Sun,

Behind me,

As I think where I have been,

On the journey to where I am going.

I make this offering of time passing.

Hold the vessel in one’s hands.

Day Seven: The Day Nears the Horizon

Day Seven brings a week of the new Sun, as it is born in the dark night of silence and a pause in the year. A week of days has passed with us observing.

Day Seven Prayer

Stretching across the sky,

From pre-dawn to the edge of dusk,

I have seen the various faces of the New Sun,

As we travel together.

I make this offering of thanks.

Hold the vessel to the sky.

Day Eight: Gathering Night

This is the gateway to night, following the Sun as it moves past the edge of the horizon, on its quiet journey.

Day Eight Prayer

Colours paint the sky,

The Sun moves on,

Into night.

Carry me with you into night.

I make this offering of devotion and following.

Lift vessel to the sky.

Day Nine: Midnight and the Hidden Sun

Day nine brings the Sun to the nadir, deep under us, while we are in darkness, others are in full light. The world around us comes to balance.

Day Nine Prayer

Hidden Sun,

Far beneath us,

Deep below this world,

In this moment of faith,

I know you will return.

I make this offering of prayer.

Gaze into the vessel.

Day Ten: Deep Night

Day ten brings the Sun to deep night, while this world sleeps, it is still in motion. When it dawns, our ten days will have passed in silence, observation, and prayer.

Day Ten Prayer

Deep Night Sun,

How dark the world seems,

Yet I know that the Sun

Is returning.

This is where I find my faith.

I make this offering of hope.

Leave the vessel on the altar, as an offering.

Ten days of the Silent Sun

We have followed the Sun for ten days of silence and prayer, in this liminal time. The civil new year arrives, as always, but we have journeyed with the Sun in silence, in offering, and in prayer.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

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